WASHINGTON – President Obama won’t be releasing the full text of his budget proposal until next week (two months late), but already some of his leaked proposals to change how inflation is calculated for Social Security has liberals such as Minneapolis U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison worried.
By changing the inflation calculation, Social Security benefits would grow more slowly over time. Obama’s proposal, reported in the New York Times and other outlets, is widely perceived as part of a wider negotiation to reach a long-term fiscal agreement with Republicans and end the budget battles that have deadlocked Washington for two years.
In exchange for making cuts to entitlement programs such as Social Security, Obama hopes Republicans will relent on their opposition to increased tax revenue, possibly from closing tax breaks.
But liberal Democrats are having none of it.
“We should not try to bargain for [Republicans'] good will with policies that hurt our seniors, especially since they’ve been unwilling to reduce tax loopholes for millionaires and wealthy corporations by so much as a dime,” said Ellison in a statement released Friday, adding that the proposal is “unpopular, unwise and unworkable.”
Ellison is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which represents the most liberal wing of congressional Democrats. In February, Ellison and 106 other House Democrats, a majority of the party’s House caucus, sent Obama a letter outlining their opposition to any cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Medicare, the health program for seniors, is another area where Obama has reportedly considered offering cuts to Republicans in exchange for more taxes. Notably, Obama’s budget proposals spare Medicaid, the federal-state medical insurance program for the poor which is at the heart of the 2010 health care law’s expansion of medical insurance.